The nation’s highest court is wading into the waters of marriage equality again, this time refusing to block a federal ruling that struck down Oregon’s ban on same-sex nuptials.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Wednesday allowing gay and lesbian couples to continue marrying in the Beaver State, which became the 18th to allow such unions last month. Shortly thereafter, a different federal judge cleared the way for same-sex nuptials in Pennsylvania, bringing the total number of states with marriage equality to 19, plus the District of Columbia.
Wednesday’s order comes in response to an emergency appeal filed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM,) which tried, unsuccessfully, to intervene at the district level on behalf of Oregon’s ban. The group then requested an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Michael McShane’s May ruling with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but was shot down.
In a last-ditch effort to halt same-sex nuptials from taking place while the Ninth Circuit considered its appeal, the group filed a request with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who referred the motion to the full court. Again, no luck for NOM.
Hundreds of same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Oregon since Judge McShane struck down the state’s ban, according to the Associated Press. Interestingly, none of the named defendants in the case, including Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Gov. John Kitzhaber, opted to defend Oregon’s 2004 marriage law, which voters approved by 57%. NOM has argued it has legal standing to intervene because it represents residents – including a county clerk, a wedding service provider, and a voter – who support the ban.
Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to invalidate the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year, there has been much speculation about when and how the high court will rule on its next marriage equality suit, which many believe will be another watershed moment for gay rights. Early this year, the Supreme Court dealt a heavy blow to marriage equality advocates when it put a stop to same-sex nuptials in Utah following a two-week stint during which it was legal. Unlike in Oregon, however, Utah officials have been defending that ban.